- Lucas Oil 200 Polesitter Natalie Decker Finishes 5th in Historic Start
- DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger Joining Clash in Sunday Afternoon Doubleheader
- Kyle Busch and William Byron Top Practice Sessions for 60th annual DAYTONA 500
Michael Self won the action-packed Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, after two “overtime” shootouts.
The Lucas Oil 200 opened the season for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. The race’s first overtime followed a multi-car backstretch incident on Lap 80 – the scheduled final lap – that necessitated a red-flag period. The first overtime lap went awry on the final turn on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, as several front-running cars got tangled up, bringing out another red flag. ARCA rules mandate a green-flag race finish, thus, a second OT.
That second try proceeded cleanly, with Self’s No. 15 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota breaking away early, and eventually edging Willie Mullins’ No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling/CW Metals/Bugsy’s Auto Ford by 0.562 seconds.
“We survived man, we survived,” Self said after a night spent cagily avoiding incidents. “We didn’t have brakes in the second half of the race, so in a couple of those wrecks I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t slow down. I just kind of aimed it.”
Lucas Oil 200 polesitter Natalie Decker’s (No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota) historic start ended with a fifth-place finish. Decker was the fourth female pole winner in Daytona International Speedway history, joining Danica Patrick (2013 DAYTONA 500), Erin Crocker (2007 Lucas Oil 200) and Patty Moise (1989 and ’90 Lucas Oil 200).
Also Saturday, a blind draw in the speedway infield’s UNOH Fanzone gave Austin Dillon (No. 3 Dow Chevrolet) the pole for Sunday’s 40th annual Advance Auto Parts Clash, which starts at 3 p.m. ET (TV – FS1; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The draw was conducted by crew chiefs whose drivers have qualified for the event; Dillon’s crew chief Justin Alexander drew the top spot. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five draw results.
The 75-lap Advance Auto Parts Clash (run in segments of 50 and 25 laps) is always a Speedweeks classic, a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series non-points battle with a field featuring 2017 pole winners, former Clash champions, former DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2017 and drivers who qualified for the 2017 Monster Energy Series Playoffs. This year’s Clash field has 17 drivers.
Sunday will mark the return of an old-school Speedweeks scheduling tradition, as DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger and the Advance Auto Parts Clash combine for an afternoon doubleheader. Qualifying starts at 12:15 p.m. ET (TV – FOX; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Sunday’s qualifying will “lock in” the top-two starting spots for the DAYTONA 500 and also establish the grids for Thursday’s Can-Am Duel, a pair of 150-mile races that determine the DAYTONA 500 field after the front row.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is trying to win the DAYTONA 500 pole for the third consecutive year, which would tie a record shared by Fireball Roberts (1961-63), his father Bill Elliott (1985-87) and Ken Schrader (1988-90).
Prior to the Lucas Oil 200, NASCAR was on-track for the first time this year with one practice session for the Advance Auto Parts Clash and two for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500, set for Feb. 18. The Clash practice was topped by new Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford) at 199.601 mph. The DAYTONA 500 sessions were led by 2015 Monster Energy Series champion Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) at 199.743; and rookie William Byron (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) at 201.681. Byron, last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and rookie of the year, is taking over the iconic Hendrick Motorsports ride driven to three DAYTONA 500 championships by Jeff Gordon.
Tickets for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
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